Tuesday 31 January 2017

Round Up

Wednesday 31st January 1917 from our correspondent in the field

As it is the end of the first month of the new year your correspondent has tried to contact all the Bedfordshire Regiment battalions in France and Flanders. The 1st Battalion are in billets in Béthune, struggling to train in the extreme cold.

The 2nd Battalion are at Beaurepaire east of Doullens. The whole battalion is employed in a railway fatigue but some members were given time-off to take part in the Divisional Inter-Battalion Cross Country Race. This was won by 20th Battalion King’s (Liverpool) Regiment with 2,769 points. The 2nd Bedfords had to be content with a close second place on 2,763 points but did have the satisfaction of having the winning runner - Corporal Joyce.

The 4th Battalion are in the front line north of Beaucourt-sur-Ancre. They have been under shell fire today as well as the usual sniping and have lost four men killed outright, another who died of wounds and fifteen men less seriously wounded.

The 6th Battalion are in 63rd Brigade reserve area at Zelobes near Béthune. 7th Battalion are in huts in Martinsart Wood on the Somme. They are furnishing working parties for Royal Engineers’ work, with one company digging communication trenches near the front Line. This company is billeted in the Support Line, sleeping in tents and working during the night. The adjutant remarked to me: “In spite of the intense cold, frost and snow the men appear very fit and are changed over every third day”. He went on: “Every opportunity is being taken to improve backward men with classes for drill, musketry, sniping, scouting and signalling, also for non-commissioned officers and young officers who require extra tuition are kept going daily except when the Battalion is actually in the trenches”.

The 8th Battalion adjutant has given me the field state for the battalion which stands at 29 officers and 1,106 other ranks. During the month the Battalion has lost one man killed, two men missing, seven men wounded and 88 sick in hospital, of whom 52 have returned to duty.The adjutant remarked: “The majority of the sick are men recently out from England”.

The last we heard from the 1st/5th Battalion in far-away Egypt they were moving from Suez into the Sinai Desert. The adjutant told me the speculation was of an imminent campaign to drive the Turks out of Palestine, victories in December and January having taken the army to the borders of this territory.

Sources: X550/2/5; X550/3/WD; X550/5/3; X550/6/8; X550/7/1; X550/8/1; X550/9/1

Roll of Honour - 31st January 1917


2nd Garrison Battalion

  • 36343 Private William FAYER, 39, ex-32201 North Lancashire Regiment, son of John and Letetia Fayer of 29 Wilbraham Street, Preston [Lancashire] (Brighton City Bear Road Cemetery)

Monday 30 January 2017

A Demonstration in Front of the General

General Sir Edmund Allenby

Tuesday 30th January 1917 from our correspondent in the field

2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment reports that two companies are still on working parties for the Royal Engineers. However, D Company spent part of today in the company of the General Officer Commanding Third Army, General Sir Edmund Allenby. He watched the men giving a demonstration of the new organisation for a company in the attack, building on lessons learned in the Somme battles last year(1).

Source: X550/3/WD

(1) Allenby would have been planning the Arras Offensive, which got under way on 9th April, 2nd Bedfords being involved in the opening day.

Sunday 29 January 2017

A Successful Raid

Little Willie Trench in red and Hindenburg Trench in blue

Monday 29th January 1917 from our correspondent in the field

The adjutant of the 8th Battalion was on the “blower” to me this morning to tell me what happened in the trench raid which took place just in front of the Hohenzollern Redoubt near Loos in the early hours. The two positions under attack were those called Little Willie and Hindenburg Trench by our troops. Both are shown on the map above.

Our artillery prepared the way at 3.30 and seven minutes later 150 men from C Company under Captain Brewster went over the top. They quickly moved into the enemy’s front line and took it as it was very lightly held. Captain Brewster had strict instructions to limit the raid to 35 minutes duration so he thought it imprudent to penetrate the enemy’s second line trench (Hindenburg Trench).

The captain and his men took two prisoners as well as killing a number of Germans. The men used mobile charges to bomb six German dug-outs so the enemy casualty figures may be much higher. Our own men had one officer very slightly wounded, one man killed(1), one severely wounded and three lightly wounded. Captain Brewster reported that the enemy put up “very poor resistance”. After the raid the Battalion returned to billets.

Source: X550/9/1

(1) This is probably 31133 Private Alfred Edward Hewitt. He is recorded as being killed on 28th January but has no known grave and so was, presumably, left behind in the enemy trenches. He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial to the Missing. No 8th Battalion deaths are recorded for 29th January. 

Roll of Honour - 29th January 1917

Killed in Action

4th Battalion: front line on the north bank of the River Ancre

  • 31019 Private George Edward SMITH, 33, son of James and Jane Smith of Pailton [Warwickshire], and husband of Ethel of Clematis Cottage, Kilsby [Warwickshire] (Ancre British Cemetery Beaumont-Hamel)


2nd Battalion
  • 29681 Private Harry ALLEBONE, 28, son of John and Jane Allebone of Aldreth [Cambridgeshire] and husband of Nellie of Hillrow, Haddenham [Cambridgeshire](Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension Number 1)

Saturday 28 January 2017


Captain O A R Beale [X550/1/82]

Sunday 28th January 1917 from our correspondent in the field

The new adjutant of the 1st Battalion, Captain O A R Beale tells me that it has been frozen so hard that training has been very restricted, mostly route marches, drill and a certain amount of shooting being all that can be done.

Meanwhile C Company of 8th Battalion has moved into the front line at Loos. They are keyed up for a raid to be conducted early tomorrow morning. Earlier today Sergeant Jarvis was wounded when Private Fall discharged his rifle whilst cleaning it. One wonders how many other private soldiers might contemplate shooting their sergeant, though the adjutant assured me it was an accident. Such a dangerous breach of discipline is likely to have fairly severe repercussions.

Sources: X550/2/5; X550/9/1

Roll of Honour - 28th January 1917

Killed in Action

4th Battalion: front line on the north bank of the River Ancre

  • 40211 Private Alfred BROOKES, ex-28202 Essex Regiment, husband of E M Brookes of The Hill, Long Stratton [Norfolk] (Ancre British Cemetery Beaumont-Hamel)
  • 25196 Private Harold David JOAD, 20, son of Annie M. Desborough (formerly Joad) and the late Charles Joad, of Ansell’s End, Kimpton [Hertfordshire], born Weston [Hertfordshire] (Ancre British Cemetery Beaumont-Hamel)
8th Battalion: front line near Loos

  • 31133 Private Alfred Edward HEWITT, born Park Street, Saint Albans [Hertfordshire], resided Watford [Hertfordshire] (Loos Memorial)

Friday 27 January 2017

The Battle of the Somme begins Again

Captain P C Cavan [X550/1/81]

Saturday 27th January 1917 from our correspondent in the field

It seems that the Battle of the Somme, suspended since the middle of November because of the bad weather, is once more getting under way. Today 29th Division have taken over three hundred prisoners in an advance of a quarter mile near the River Ancre. The feeling amongst correspondents is that we will see similar piecemeal actions for a while, to test the enemy’s resolve and defences before any major offensive gets under way.

The 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment is currently in billets at Beaurepaire just east of Doullens The whole Battalion has been providing a railway fatigue - building a new railway to ensure the most efficient movement of men and material behind the front line. Captain P C Cavan of the 4th Bedfords has arrived today and taken over command of D Company.

Source: X550/3/WD

Roll of Honour - 27th January 1917

Died of Wounds

7th Battalion

  • 29956 Private Dennis Frank LILLEY, 19, son of Denis and Mary Lilley of Royston [Hertfordshire], (Varennes Military Cemetery)

Thursday 26 January 2017

4th Battalion Back on the Ancre

4th Battalion position shown in red

Friday 26th January 1917 from our correspondent in the field

The 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment is back in the front line north of the River Ancre, near the site of their triumph in November. As the map above shows they are just north of Beaucourt-sur-Ancre facing almost due north. The adjutant spoke with me for some time about the Battalion’s expectations for this year and chief among them was a renewal of the Somme offensive in this locality where the front line did not move very far last year.

Source: X550/5/3

Roll of Honour - 26th January 1917

Killed in Action

4th Battalion: front line on the north bank of the River Ancre

  • 22310 Corporal Frederick WESTLEY or WESLEY, 27, son of Alfred and Cassandra Westley/Wesley of Luton, (Ancre British Cemetery, Beaumont-Hamel) 

Wednesday 25 January 2017

8th Battalion back in the Front Line

Thursday 25th January 1917

The 8th Battalion is once more in the front line near Loos. They have been actively sending out patrols. Their snipers have also been active and have claimed at least two hits without suffering casualties themselves. The adjutant tells us that a successful raid was carried out by the Brigade on their left. This resulted in some enemy retaliation on the Bedfords but no damage was done.

Source: X550/9/1

Tuesday 24 January 2017


Second Lieutenant I T M Collins [X550/1/81]

Wednesday 24th January 1917

2nd Battalion are currently training behind the lines. This afternoon an Inter-Company Cross Country Race took place. The winners were D Company, the first three men home being 9399 Corporal G Joyce, 13626 Acting Sergeant G Butcher and 9950 Private F Humphries. Second Lieutenant I T M Collins went on leave today(1).

Three officers have arrived at 6th Battalion today as reinforcements. In addition we understand that Company Sergeant Major Abbott has been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Sources: X550/3/WD; X550/7/1

(1) Sergeant G C Butcher would die on Christmas Eve and is buried in Hooge Crater Cemetery. 

Roll of Honour - 24th January 1917

Killed in Action

7th Battalion: front line trenches near Ovillers-la-Boisselle

  • 4/6835 Private Ernest HAWKINS, born Luton, resided Saint Albans [Hertfordshire] (Pozieres British Cemetery, Ovillers-la Boiselle)
  • 3/7360 Private Ebenezer LOGAN, 20, son of John William and Hannah Logan of Luton (Pozieres British Cemetery, Ovillers-la Boiselle)


12th Transport Worker Battalion

  • 33972 Private Frederick Thomas JACKSON, Husband of R M Jackson of 9 Harrow Street Acton [London], born Stockton [Yorkshire] (Nunhead All-Saints Cemetery, Surrey

Monday 23 January 2017

Tit-for-Tat Captures

Second Lieutenant A W Joyce [X550/1/81]

Tuesday 23rd January 1917

2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, have welcomed back 10353 Sergeant A W Joyce from England. However, he is no longer a sergeant. He was in England on a course for officers and has returned as a Second Lieutenant. He has been posted to D Company. Lieutenant-Colonel H S Poyntz has also rejoined the battalion and resumed command.

6th Battalion, at le Touret, near Neuve-Chapelle have been laying barbed wire in their front line. Whilst doing this they captured two German prisoners who were patrolling. Thus the Battalion have avenged Second Lieutenant Mattey and Sergeant Hunter who seem to have been captured on patrol three days ago. At another time and in another place the two might have been exchanged for the two Germans newly taken prisoner but such things do not happen much in this war.

Sources: X550/3/WD; X550/7/1

Sunday 22 January 2017

Working with Wood

2nd Lieutenant A F Aldridge [X550/1/81]

Monday 22nd January 1917

The adjutant of the 2nd Battalion, north-west of Albert, reports that 2nd Lieutenant A Stone, 2nd Lieutenant A F Aldridge and seventy other ranks are acting as a wood cutting party at Gaudiempré. Meanwhile C and D Companies are being employed on working parties for the Royal Engineers.

2nd Lieutenant A Stone [X550/1/81]

Speaking of Royal Engineers, 1st Field Company East Anglian Royal Engineers also near Albert, have taken over the work of the forward Field Company for the 2nd Division from 226th Field Company. Their work consists of improving front line posts, extending the Brigade headquarters, dugout repair and the construction of brushwood mat tracks. They are also supplying skilled labour to the Divisional Hutting Officer and Divisional Royal Engineers Dump.

Sources: X550/3/WD; WW1/WD3

Roll of Honour - 22nd January 1917


1st Battalion
  • Temporary Second Lieutenant Charles Percival MATTEY, 29, as a prisoner-of-war, son of George and Elizabeth Mattey of Penglais, Burghill [Herefordshire], a bank clerk in the London and River Plate Bank, Buenos Aires [Argentina], born Much Dewchurch [Herefordshire] (Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez)

Saturday 21 January 2017

Instruction in Raiding

Sunday 21st January 1917

The 8th Battalion, who have been in the front line at Loos, were relieved today and have gone into support. Though the enemy has been quiet, the adjutant tells me that our own field artillery and trench mortars have been busy cutting the enemy’s barbed wire with shrapnel. The reason for this seems to be that a trench raid is in preparation. Captain G D Brewster and eighty men have been sent to the divisional school for instruction in the latest techniques for carrying out a successful raid.

Schedule: X550/9/1

Friday 20 January 2017

Missing on Patrol

Lieutenant Fleming [X550/1/82]

Saturday 20th January 1917

The adjutant of the 6th Battalion, in the front line at le Touret near Neuve-Chapelle, reports that our artillery has been busy cutting the enemy’s fire with bursts of shrapnel. The enemy has been fairly quiet but Second Lieutenant Mattey and Sergeant Hunter, who went out on a patrol have not return and they are feared captured or killed. Lieutenant Fleming and a non-commissioned officer went out to look for them but could find no sign(1)

Postscript: rumour has reached the army of a serious explosion at an ammunition factory in London last evening. There are said to be many casualties and people are comparing it with the accident in America last week and wondering if German agents have been active in both places(2)

Source: X550/7/1

(1) Second Lieutenant Charles Percival Mattey’s date of death is given as 22nd January 1917 by Commonwealth War Graves Commission suggesting that he may have died as a prisoner-of war. He is buried in Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery at Souchez. No man named Hunter died with the 6th Battalion.
(2) Just before 7 pm on 19th January 1917 an explosion at a munitions factory in Silvertown, West Ham [Essex] killed 73 people and injured 400 more, enemy action was never proved and seems unlikely - the dangers of munitions factories were legion and explosions relatively common. The explosion on USA took place on 12th January.

Thursday 19 January 2017

Work of the Royal Engineers

Friday 19th January 1917

Your correspondent has heard today from 1st Field Company East Anglian Royal Engineers, attached to 2nd Division, who are north-west of Albert on the Somme. They have taken over work from 2/2nd Highland Field Company Royal Engineers of 51st Division.

This is the work detailed for the rear Field Company of royal engineer unites of the division and consists of supplying labour for the divisional sawmill and Royal Engineer dumps, repairs to hutments, cutting pit props and making brushwood mats. Most of this activity takes place in Aveluy Wood. Second Lieutenant Haward has been detailed Divisional Hutting Officer and has left the company to assume these duties.

Since Monday 25 other ranks each from 2nd Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment and 13th Battalion Essex Regiment and one officer and 25 other ranks each from 1st Battalion, King’s (Liverpool) Regiment and 17th Battalion Middlesex Regiment have been attached to company as “Sappers’ Mates”, doing simple manual labour under the expert eye of the engineers.

Source: WW1/WD3

Roll of Honour - 19th January 1917


2nd Battalion

  • 27582 Private Albert Edward KEW, 35, born and resided Stanground, [Huntingdonshire] (Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Treport)

5th Battalion

  • 201575 Private Albert SIMMONDS, 29, son of Henry and Emily Simmonds of 5 Adelaide Cottages, Burgess Hill [Sussex] (Burgess Hill, Saint John, Graveyard) 

Wednesday 18 January 2017

It Ended in Tears

Gas Masks at the Imperial War Museum

Thursday 18th January 1917

1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment is in the front line at Cuinchy, east of Béthune. This afternoon the Germans, for reasons unknown, perhaps just for something to do, shelled the artillery battery supporting the Bedfords. The adjutant said he estimated about five hundred shells went over their heads. It turned out these shells were filled with lachrymatory, or tear, gas as the gas blew back onto the Bedfords causing copious eye irritations but, fortunately, no further casualties.

Source: X550/2/5

Tuesday 17 January 2017

Snow at the Front

Wednesday 17th January 1917

The 6th Battalion has today moved to the Hohenzollern Left Sector on the old Loos battlefield, relieving the 2nd Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment in the front line. The weather, they report, is quite bad as there has been a very heavy fall of snow. “Gentlemen in England now a-bed” should think of these conditions and be thankful for their ease.

Source: X550/7/1

Monday 16 January 2017

Lewis Gunners to the Fore

Lewis Gun by Balcer on Wikipedia

Tuesday 16th January 1916

The 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment is at le Touret near the old 1915 battlefield at Neuve-Chapelle. They are busy training for whatever the year may hold. In a conversation with the adjutant this morning he mentioned that an eight-day course began this morning for the Battalion’s Lewis gunners. These men provide vital assistance in any attack as their rapid fire weapons can suppress enemy strongpoints and snipers, allowing the other men to continue going forward, so a Lewis gun team of two men (firer and loader) can never be too well trained.

Source: X550/7/1

Roll of Honour - 16th January 1916

Died of Wounds

4th Battalion

  • 40202 Private Clifford WOODS, 20, ex-28650 Essex Regiment, son of Herbert and Matilda Woods of The Cult, Layer-De-La-Haye [Essex] (Warrington Cemetery)

Sunday 15 January 2017

No Rest ...

Monday 15th January 1917

8th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment are mostly resting in huts at Noyelles-lès-Vermelles resting. The exception is one company closer to the front line at Lancashire Trench. The adjutant has contacted me today to say that at 10.30 this morning they were all ordered to stand to and another company was sent up to support a planned attack. He went on, somewhat ruefully that “as expected” the attack was cancelled but the unlucky company will not return to rest until tomorrow. The weather has been frightful and this, no doubt, was the reason for the attack’s cancellation.

 Second Lieutenant H D Chester [X550/1/81]

The adjutant of 2nd Battalion tells me that Second Lieutenant H D Chester was due back from leave today. Unfortunately, however, he was been admitted to the Southern General Hospital in Bristol.

Sources: X550/9/1; X550/3/WD

Saturday 14 January 2017

Instant Promotion

Lieutenant-Colonel H S Poyntz [X550/1/82]

Sunday 14th January 1917

Yesterday Captain Massey Poyntz was promoted to major and became second-in-command. He has received an instant promotion. His brother, Lieutenant-Colonel Hugh Poyntz has departed 2nd Battalion for 3rd Army School, so Major Poyntz is now commanding officer, albeit only on a temporary basis until his brother’s return.

Source: X550/3/WD

Friday 13 January 2017

One Captain Leaves, One Captain Takes Over

Major J W H T Douglas [X550/1/81]

Saturday 13th January 1917

The adjutant of the 2nd Battalion, in billets at Mondicourt, tells me that one cricketing captain has been replaced by another. Major J W H T Douglas, captain of Essex and England has left the battalion this morning to command 1st/6th Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment, part of 46th (North Midland) Division, which was based in and around Luton from August 1914 to February 1915.

Major E S M Poyntz [X550/1/81]

Major Douglas’ successor as second-in-command is the captain of Somerset, Captain E S M Poyntz, who has been promoted to major. Major Poyntz is, of course, brother of Lieutenant-Colonel H S Poyntz the battalion’s commanding officer.

Source: X550/3/WD

Roll of Honour - 13th January 1917

Died of Wounds

8th Battalion

  • 28976 Private Ernest Alfred BRAKENBURY, 35, son of Alfred and Annie Brakenbury of Briggate, Worstead [Norfolk], born North Walsham [Norfolk] (Boulogne Eastern Cemetery)

Thursday 12 January 2017

A Commotion "Over the Pond"

Friday 12th January 1917

Readers will recall that we reported that between 1st and 9th January the Regiment had received 414 reinforcements. Today 2nd Battalion received another 56 of them.

There is some talk of the former colonies in the army today. News reached us early this morning of a great explosion at a munitions factory in the state of New Jersey. The United States of America is, of course, neutral in this war, but its munitions industry has grown greatly since the outbreak of hostilities and the insatiable need of the allied armies for ammunition from bullets to shells of the largest calibre.

This explosion, we understand, is rumoured to have been caused by a German agent. Whether this is true or not, it shows that the people of America have a distrust of the Germans and their allies which might, in time, drive them into the alliance against the Central Powers(1)

Source: X550/3/WD

(1) The Kingsland Commission, reporting in 1931, concluded that no German agent was implicated in the explosion and fire which destroyed the whole factory but, mercifully, took no lives.

Roll of Honour - 12th January 1917


4th Battalion

  • 40188 Private George Frederick DEAN, 30, ex-28249 Essex Regiment, son of David and Louisa Dean of Weston Colville [Cambrideshire], husband of A E Dean, of Church Street, Ickleton, resided Bartlow [Cambridgeshire] [Essex] (Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension) 

Wednesday 11 January 2017

What is Intelligence?

Thursday 11th January 1917

The adjutant of the Bedfordshire Yeomanry mentioned to me today that Second Lieutenant Procter went on an Intelligence Course yesterday. He also stated that, in the opinion of the brother officers he spoke with, the conclusion was aired that man cannnot teach what God has not given!

This flippancy aside, the term intelligence does get bandied about somewhat in this army and your reporter has, perhaps, been guilty of using it without explanation. What is meant by “intelligence” is, essentially, knowledge of the enemy - his positions, his state of mind, his plans and so on. Thus the unfairly abused Second Lieutenant Procter has gone on a course to study how best to elicit this intelligence from patrols, raids, listening posts and similar dodges to overhear enemy conversations or obtain enemy prisoners.

The adjutant also mentioned that Sergeants Raymond and Dale have gone to England for commissions. The phenomenon of soldiers being promoted from the ranks to be officers is happening with increasing frequency as resources at home dwindle and as it is realised what great gifts of leadership and resource ordinary soldiers possess, regardless of their social class.

Source: WW1/WD2

Roll of Honour - 11th January 1917


8th Battalion

  • 33297 Private Arthur LOVETT, 28, ex-21840 Middlesex Regiment, son of Amos Lovett of Keston, Hayes [Kent] (Chocques Military Cemetery) 

Tuesday 10 January 2017

The Shooting Goes On

Trench Mortar at the Imperial War Museum

Wednesday 10th January 1917

A conversation with the adjutant of the 8th Battalion on the telephone today reminded me that, even though both armies are, unofficially in “winter quarters”, the firing goes on. Winter Quarters used to mean a suspension of hostilities for the winter whilst both armies built up their strength and planned and trained fro the year to some. Of course, that still happens, but in this modern, industrial war of constant siege the front lines are still manned and so fire is exchanged on a regular basis. Today the battalion gave thirty of its men to the Royal Engineers to make new dugouts in the support line. Seeing this activity the Germans fired about two hundred light trench mortars over the front line. Fortunately no casualties accrued to the Bedfords. The adjutant remarked that the enemy: “Received good retaliation from our artillery”.

Source: X550/9/1

Roll of Honour - 10th January 1917

Killed in Action

3rd Battalion

  • Temporary Lieutenant James Hamilton MACGREGOR, attached 132nd Company, Machine Gun Corps (Amara War Cemetery, Iraq)

Died of Wounds

8th Battalion

  • 17388 Private Joseph STANDISH, 37, son of Samuel and Rosanna Standish, of 355 Shoreham Street, Sheffield [Yorkshire] (Longuenesse Souvenir Cemetery, Saint-Omer)

Monday 9 January 2017

And More Reinforcements

Captain H A W Pearse [X550/1/81]

Tuesday 9th January 1917

The adjutant of the 2nd Battalion tells me that they have today received 37 other ranks as reinforcements. In the first nine days of this year the battalions of the Regiment have received the following numbers:
  • 2nd Battalion: 87;
  • 6th Battalion: 54;
  • 8th Battalion: 273
A total of 414 officers and men. Meanwhile the Battalion has lost an officer, hopefully purely temporarily, as Captain H A W Pearse has gone on leave.

Source: X550/3/wd

Roll of Honour - 9th January 1917


1st Garrison Battalion

  • 23986 Private Thomas MCCARTHY, ex-3841 Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment), born Rotherhithe, [London] (Delhi War Cemetery) 

Sunday 8 January 2017

How to Deal with Reinforcements

Monday 8th January 1917

The adjutant of the 1st Battalion told me today that they are now in support to the front line near Cuinchy. He also explained that their brigade (15th) has established a Brigade Training Depot at Beuvry two or three miles due west and thus two or three miles away from the firing line. This depot, under the command of Major Deakin of 16th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, is tasked with taking all drafts of reinforcements sent to the Brigade. They will remain at the depot until fully qualified in musketry and all branches of training at which point they will be sent to their allotted battalions. Second Lieutenant A J Fyson from the battalion has been sent to this depot as an instructor

Source: X550/2/5

Saturday 7 January 2017

More Reinforcements

Sunday 7th January 1917

The 8th Battalion has received more reinforcements for this years campaigning. The adjutant tells me that 98 other ranks arrived today. He commented on them: “Very good but mostly specialists” meaning men such as machine-ginners, signallers, scouts and so on. Meanwhile the Commanding officer, Lord Henry Scott inspected the draft of 174 other ranks which arrived yesterday. Thus the battalion has had its numbers boosted by more than a company’s worth of men in two days - in excess of a quarter of its total strength

Source: X550/9/1

Friday 6 January 2017

New Men and New Responsibilities

Saturday 6th January 1917

The adjutant of the 7th Battalion tells me that Second Lieutenant Trewman, Second Lieutenant Kydd, Corporal Mears, Lance Corporal Morris and Lance Corporal Hersted have all qualified as Bombing Instructors at 54th Brigade Bombing School(1).

Meanwhile 8th Battalion, which suffered so badly in a number of enganements on the Somme has received a draft of one officer and 174 other ranks as reinforcements. Meanwhile about two hundred men are engaged on working parties at Vermelles near the old Loos battlefield.

Source: X550/8/1; X550/9/1

(1) Second Lieutenant Chester Bishop Kydd would be killed at Chérisy on 3rd May, he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. 13722 Sergeant John H Morris would be killed on 23rd March 1918 and is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial 

Thursday 5 January 2017

More Awards

Friday 5th January 1917

The New Year is a time when awards are granted to outstanding soldiers in the army. We heard of a number of awards to 2nd Battalion on New Year’s Day; yesterday we heard of seven members of the battalion mentioned in despatches: Lieutenant-Colonel H S Poyntz, DSO; Captain R O Wynne, DSO; Lieutenant J W Hurrell; 2nd Lieutenant G A Anstee, MC; 2nd Lieutenant L H Walker; 9009 Company Quarter Master Sergeant H Maidment and 9675 Lance Sergeant G Wilson(1)

Lieutenant J W Hurrell [X550/1/81]

Meanwhile, 8th Battalion has been informed that their regimental sergeant major has been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. In addition the commanding officer (Lord Henry Scott), Captain Steyn, Captain Pares and Second Lieutenant Smith have been mentioned in despatches(2) .

Sources: X550/3/WD; X550/9/1

(1) Second Lieutenant Walker was killed in the attack on Gird Trench on 12th October 1916 and is buried at Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval.
(2) Second Lieutenant W T Smith would be killed on 3rd March and is buried at Cambrin Military Cemetery.

Wednesday 4 January 2017

Retaliation for Mines and a Re-organization

Thursday 4th January 1917

The land around Cuinchy and its northern neighbour Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée is somewhere that presents a face similar to the moon or to the face of an adolescent suffering with acute acne. The ground is covered with craters as the plan above shows. This assemblage was added to today when the army blew another mine close to positions occupied by the 1st Bedfords. With a certain gloomy detachment the adjutant told me: “The enemy retaliated very promptly with his artillery and eventually bombarded our left support trenches with 77 mm high explosive and shrapnel, blowing in a trench and causing ten casualties (three killed and seven wounded)”. He also mentioned that Lieutenant-Colonel F N Butler has gone on leave and that Captain C A S Morris has assumed command of the Battalion(1).

The adjutant of the 7th Battalion mentioned to me today that tey have set up different arrangements for specialist within the battalion: “Major J. H. Bridcutt was appointed officer commanding all specialists with other officers being in charge of their respective detachments such as signallers, Lewis gunners, snipers, scouts and so on. This organisation was started to keep under proper control men who were always away from their own Companies. The Companies continue to pay these men but all other administration is carried on independent of their Companies”.

Sources: X550/2/5; X550/8/1

Roll of Honour - 4th January 1917

Killed in Action

1st Battalion: Frontline at Cuinchy, enemy bombardment
  • 40050 Private Ronald KNIGHTS, 29, ex-28752 Suffolk Regiment, son of Samuel and Mary Knights of Gladstone Cottages, Kessingland, [Suffolk] (Gorre British and Indian Cemetery)
  • 40047 Private George Alfred LING, 40, ex 28504 Suffolk Regiment, son of Charles and Georgiana Ling, of Ivy House, Bedfield [Suffolk] (Gorre British and Indian Cemetery)
  • 14552 Private Lawrence MONDIN, 21, son of George R. Mondin of 106 Whitley Road, Rye Park, Hoddesdon [Hertfordshire] (Gorre British and Indian Cemetery) 

Tuesday 3 January 2017

Men and Horses

Wednesday 3rd January 1917

The 2nd Battalion received fifty men as reinforcements on the 1st of this month, today the 6th Battalion has received the same number. There are rumours here (there are always more rumours in an army than men in the army, it seems) that High Command are looking to re-open the Somme offensive as soon as they can this year, having been forced to abandon it in the filthy weather of November. These reinforcements will add more grist to this rumour mill.

The adjutant of the Bedfordshire Yeomanry, not far from Calais, tells us that their horses have been inspected by the veterinary officer today. An intelligence course is being held at divisional headquarters whilst a number of officers and men - Captain Holmes, Captain Proby, Lieutenant Foster, Sergeant Andrew, Sergeant Ekins and Sergeant Chapman have been sent on courses at the divisional school.

Sources: X550/3/wd; WW1/WD2

Monday 2 January 2017

Gongs and Gloves

Tuesday 2nd January 1917 from our correspondent in the field

Readers will remember that the adjutant of the 1st Battalion, in thee waterlogged trenches in the flat-lands of Cuinchy reported yesterday on the dreadful state of those trenches. Today, he tells me, the enemy added to the misery by bombarding the men with aerial torpedoes and rifle grenades. Thankfully this resulted in no casualties, but made the bad state of the trenches even worse.

The adjutant of the 6th Battalion tells me that Lieutenant W E Aylwin has been awarded the Military Cross whilst Lieutenant-Colonel F H Edwards, Lieutenant C Chamier and Regimental Sergeant Major Headland have been mentioned in despatches.

The adjutant of the 7th Battalion spoke with me on the blower and told me that they have been busy training. This hard work is being leavened by a boxing tournament tonight in a barn used as a recreation room. The preliminary bouts have taken place in the last few days so tonight will be the finals and some good boxing is expected.

Sources: X550/2/5; X550/3/WD; X550/8/1